Guangzhou, traditionally romanised as Canton, is the capital and most populous city of the province of Guangdong in southern China. Located on the Pearl River about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and 145 km (90 mi) north of Macau, Guangzhou has a history of over 2200 years and was a major terminus of the maritime Silk Road and continues to serve as a major port and transportation hub today.
According to historical records, the city was built in 214BC and was known as Panyu . The name Guangzhou actually referred to the prefecture in which Panyu was located. As the city grew, the name Guangzhou was adopted for the city itself.
As a major sea port, Guangzhou's history is full of color. In 786 the city was sacked by the Persians and in 1711 the British East India Company established a trading post here. In 1757, the government designated the city as the only port allowed business transactions with foreign nations. This continued until 1842, the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, when four other ports were added. Losing the exclusive privilege pushed Guangzhou to become more industrialized later.
Guangzhou was also part of the so called "Maritime Silk Road" that linked southern China with India, South-East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. As a result of its links with the Middle East, a mosque was established in the city in 627, and a small Muslim community continues to live in Guangzhou to this day. Additionally, the sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism was born in Guangzhou and taught the famous Platform Sutra in the city. As a result, Guangzhou has retained a strong connection with this school of Buddhism, and the monastery where the sixth patriarch studied is considered a local treasure. The first Protestant missionary in China, Robert Morrison, entered Guangzhou in 1807.
The old town of Guangzhou was near Baiyun Mountain on the east bank of the Pearl River (Zhujiang) about 80 miles (129 km) from its junction with the South China Sea and about 300 miles (483 km) below its head of navigation. It commanded the rich alluvial plain of the Pearl River Delta, with its connection to the sea protected at the Humen Strait.The present city spans 7,434.4 square kilometres (2,870.4 sq mi) on both sides of the river from 112° 57′ to 114° 03′ E longitude and 22° 26′ to 23° 56′ N latitude in south-central Guangdong. The Pearl is the 3rd-largest river of China. Baiyun Mountain is now locally referred to as the city's "lung"
Guangzhou is the main manufacturing hub of the Pearl River Delta, one of mainland China's leading commercial and manufacturing regions. In 2013, the GDP reached ¥1542 billion (US$248 billion), per capita was ¥120,515 (US $19,459). Guangzhou is considered one of the most prosperous cities in China. But due to rapid industrialisation, it is also considered one of the most polluted cities.
The Canton Fair, formally the "China Import and Export Fair", is held every year in April and October by the Ministry of Trade. Inaugurated in the spring of 1957, the fair is a major event for the city. It is the trade fair with the longest history, highest level, largest scale in China. From the 104th session onwards, the fair moved to the new Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center in Pazhou, from the older complex in Liuhua. The GICEC is served by two stations on Metro Line 8. Since the 104th session, the Canton Fair has been arranged in three phases instead of two phases.Guangzhou is one the largest hubs of China's illegal drug trade.
Within China, the culture of the Cantonese people is a subset of the larger "Southern" or "Lingnan" cultural areas. Notable aspects of Guangzhou's cultural heritage include:
Cantonese language, the local and prestige variant of Yue Chinese
Cantonese cuisine, one of China's eight major culinary traditions
Cantonese opera, usually divided into martial and literary performances
Xiguan, the area west of the former walled city
The Guangzhou Opera House & Symphony Orchestra also perform classical Western music and Chinese compositions in their style. Cantonese music is a traditional style of Chinese instrumental music, while Cantopop is the local form of pop music and rock-and-roll which developed from neighbouring Hong Kong.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is about 17 miles (28 km) from the city center. It is one of the three busiest air transportation hubs in China. There are totally 123 scheduled flights in the airport, and 86 of them are domestic flights between the city and major Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xian. Major cities worldwide can be reached in 15 hours. The airport's flight network covers South and Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Laos, Burma, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In addition, there are flights to Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul and Lagos.
Guangzhou has three railway stations handling passenger transport. The Railway Station at Huanshi Road is the largest and the most important one, operating trains between the city and Beijing, Wuhan, Nanjing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Lhasa and many other China cities. The East Railway Station (Tianhe Railway Station) mainly provides through trains from to Hong Kong and frequent bullet trains between to Shenzhen. The North Railway Station in Huadu District is a small station mainly operates bullet trains between the city and Wuhan.
It is one of the ten most famous port cities in China. Guangzhou Port is made up of Humen Port, Xinsha Port, Huangpu Port and many other inner ports. The ship routes lead to more than 100 domestic ports and over 300 foreign ports. Some ports there provide passenger transport service. Panyu Lianhuashan Port provides high speed passenger liners to reach Hong Kong daily. Huangpu Port offers ships to Xiuying Port, Haikou.